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Metro mulls refund policy

  • Published in Local

metro logoWASHINGTON D.C. — A proposal to refund Metro passengers for late trains during rush hour moved one step closer to becoming a reality last Thursday after a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration committee unanimously approved a plan that would refund passengers for trains that are late by 15 minutes or more during rush hour service. 

The unanimous recommendation by Metro’s Safety and Service Delivery Committee’s during its Jan. 11 meeting brings the plan one step closer to final approval, and needs only the full WMATA board's approval before going into effect, which WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said could happen as early as Jan. 26.

“We know we still need to earn back their confidence,” explained Assistant GM Lynn Bowersox.

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Derailed!

  • Published in Local

Metro officials continue to investigate Red Line derailment 

metro logoWASHINGTON — Metro has not yet determined the cause of Monday’s Red Line derailment, but they are pleased with improvements to emergency responses made in the wake of the fatal L’Enfant Plaza smoke incident two years ago, WMATA officials said.

“The final cause has not been determined,” said WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld, while noting that a crack or break in the rail may have led to the derailment, which took place at 6:40 a.m. outside Farragut North station on Monday. Metro is also considering whether human error was a contributing factor, he said.

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Metro still having trouble with “Back2Good”

  • Published in Local

Metro officials said in a November report the yearlong SafeTrack program did not meet goals for some of the projects as management had claimed; more service disruptions will be caused by single-tracking and shutdowns for additional repairs. 

Quality assurance internal compliance and oversight (QICO) officials at Metro said several of the projects from the year of SafeTrack’s multi-day, single-tracking- and shutdown-related projects either left some problems unresolved or had fresh problems develop after the SafeTrack program ended. Some problems led to service disruptions such as speed restrictions. 

Metro officials determined Metro has problems in planning, defining scope of capital projects such as SafeTrack and ensuring that work consistently meets the requirements for inspection and data recording from inspections. Also included in the report are corrective action plans for each of the problems found in the investigation.

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Metro cutting negative SmarTrip balances

  • Published in Local

WMATA metro logoStarting Monday, Jan. 8, Metro riders will no longer be permitted to have a negative balance on their SmarTrip cards after entering or leaving a station or bus with slightly less than the required fare.

WMATA Chief Financial Officer Dennis Anosike said that fare gates and bus fare boxes would stop allowing negative balances because the unpaid negative fares are costing Metro too much potential revenue. 

"In an environment where every dollar counts, we are taking a common sense approach to ensure that Metro is properly collecting the value of the transportation it provides to reduce the demand on Metro customers and the region for additional funding," Anosike said on Nov. 24.

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Shake, Rattle, but Metro won’t roll

  • Published in Local

metro logoA Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority contractor has confirmed that some homes located over a section of the Green Line are vibrating more than they should but the cause of the vibration is unknown, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said last week.

“WMATA continues to analyze track conditions, car design and car maintenance to identify the cause or causes for the elevated readings,” Wiedefeld said, but a report on the investigation of vibrating homes will not be available until 2018.

Ward 4 D.C. Council member Brandon Todd said residents in Northwest D.C. have been complaining to him about vibrations and damage to their homes for more than a year. 

“I remain extremely concerned that progress on this matter has been unusually slow, given the significance of the impacts described by residents,” Todd said last month.  “They report intense shaking of the vibration of their homes, which is causing cracks in the wall and other property damage. Similar reports have also occurred in other neighborhoods throughout the district.”

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Man rescued, transported after being struck by Metro train

  • Published in Local

metro logoD.C. Fire & Emergency Medical Services personnel transported a man to a hospital Friday after he was struck by a Metro train, D.C. Fire & EMS spokesperson Vito Maggiolo said.

EMS personnel extricated the man from under a train near L’Enfant Plaza Station and transported him to a hospital, Maggiolo said. The man was in critical condition.

Metro spokesperson Ron Holzer said Friday afternoon he had received no updates on the man’s condition.

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Metro will stay open an hour later for Game 5, Wharf opening

  • Published in Local

metro logoWASHINGTON – Metro’s General Manager Paul Wiedefeld and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday Exelon will fund the extra hour of service so riders will be able to enter select stations after 11 p.m.

“Tonight, the District of Columbia will host a Nationals’ NLDS championship game and an exciting opening of The Wharf,” said Bowser. “We want everyone attending these events to enjoy their experience and have a safe ride home at the end of the night. Go Nats and enjoy the Wharf!” 

 “Our commitment to the D.C. community extends beyond powering our customers’ homes and businesses," said Exelon CEO Chris Crane said. "We want to make sure they can enjoy these landmark events in D.C. and have options for getting home safely and efficiently, and we are pleased to partner with Mayor Bowser to make this happen.” 

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Metro Assaults Up

Broken Promises - Bad Dreams, A Metro Investigation (Fifth in a series)

WMATA’s overall crime down but concerns remain on Metrorail 

Metro entranceIn the last six years, the MTPD (Metro Transit Police Department) has battled several lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) relating to their use of excessive force. At the same time, although overall crime has gone down at Metro stations, the number of assaults has gone up. Two notable suits involved young teens. According to the complaint filed by the ACLU in D.C. district court, in 2013 a 14-year-old girl referred to as A.K., was falsely arrested by MTPD officer Leo Taylor for a possible curfew violation. According to the ACLU the curfew would not have applied to A.K. since the train she was on was involved in interstate travel. Taylor pulled A.K. away from her older sister, punched her in the face, handcuffed her and then dragged her out of the station.

According to the complaint, Taylor took A.K. to a street-level bus shelter. Another officer told A.K. she could stand up, when she did Officer Taylor tackled her to the ground and smashed A.K’s head against the side of a bus shelter. When A.K. started to spit blood, Taylor tried to put a surgical mask on her, when A.K. resisted, Taylor hit the 14-year-old in the face several more times.

The teen suffered a severe concussion and had to receive physical therapy due to her injuries.

According to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) spokeswomen Sherri Ly, Taylor still works for Metro. She was unable to provide any specifics about his duty assignments.

“Like every police force in a large metropolitan area, they are dealing with tens of thousands of people every day; they are dealing with crowded conditions. I have some sympathy that they have a very tough job to do, in general, police officers try to do it well sometimes things do not turn out right, more often there are officers who just lose their temper,” said ACLU legal head Art Spitzer.

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Could Take Decades

Broken Promises - Bad Dreams, A Metro Investigation (Fourth in a series)

WMATA’s quest to get “Back2Good” runs into many problems

Metro entranceWASHINGTON, D.C. – Although the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) SafeTrack program concluded months ago, riders on the rail system continue to deal with closures and single-tracking – strategies the Metro system may be employing for some time.

Just weeks after the conclusion of the WMATA SafeTrack program, maintenance workers were back on the tracks addressing issues, and even after months of accelerated work with thousands of repairs and replacements made to the tracks, grout pads and tie downs of the rail system, stations continue to close and safety incidents are still occurring.

Eric Randall, a principal transportation engineer with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, said work and issues like those WMATA has faced are not unusual for metropolitan rail systems, but for a system with a backlog like Metro’s, it could take decades to get back on track.

“We are catching up on a backlog. It is going to take a few years, a handful of years or more maybe, to work and get through to get back to a state of good repair and keep following a fairly aggressive schedule, but Metro is never going to be new again,” Randall said. “We’re never going to get back to a whole brand new system, so yes, there’s always going to be a more aggressive maintenance schedule.”

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Metro discovers new shocking problem with 7000 series cars

metro logoA component in Metro’s newest rail car series is breaking prematurely and its manufacturer has designed a modification to fix it, Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel said.

David Stephen, spokesperson for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, said a mechanic reported he was shocked while inspecting part of the underside of the 7000 series rail car Sept. 17. He called on Metro officials to pause inspection of 7000 series rail cars until after briefing railcar mechanics on potential hazards of inspecting and repairing the newest series of railcar.

“As a result of this incident, ATU Local 689 is demanding Metro not bring any 7000-series trains into the shop until all employees that come in contact with them are properly informed on the potential for hazards, and training is given on bringing trains to manufacturer specification (to date, railcar mechanics have yet to be trained on maintaining 7000-series cars),” Stephen said in a statement.

Stessel confirmed the mechanic was shocked while inspecting a railcar, adding the incident occurred at West Falls Church Rail Yard. He said the mechanic was not injured.

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